Silk Roads: Culture, History, and Philosophy of China

Winter 2021
Spring 2021
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 25
8 12 Credits per quarter
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"Silk Roads" describes a network of trade routes east and west that were central to world’s cultural, religious, political, and economic interactions. We will use the metaphor of Silk Roads in our examination of exchanges between cultures. Students in this class will learn and collaborate with students in China. Classes will be conducted in English language on Zoom and will be hosted alternatively by Evergreen and by WuYi University. Chinese and American students will learn together about history, culture, and philosophy of China in relationship to world cultures. 

We will examine a range of philosophies, including Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, paying particular attention to their distinct conceptions of space and time. 

Our inquiry into Chinese history will focus on periods when Silk Roads were most prominent; for example, when Buddhism traveled the Silk Road to reach Japan, or when Chinese culture was re-defined as in Neo-Confucianism of Song Dynasty. We will also examine contemporary “Silk Roads” that incorporate new trends, technologies, and aspirations. 

In spring quarter we will study philosophy, art, and aesthetics from early China to modern period. Program assignments will include weekly response papers, creative work in art journal, research presentations, and a synthesis paper at the end of the quarter. Each week students will post their seminar papers and comment on each other’s work online. Through weekly study of calligraphy, we will learn Chinese characters and their embedded world-views. Each class period will typically start with Tai Ji play, a physical activity that embodies ancient Chinese cultural traditions. 

Also in spring quarter students will develop independent collaborative entrepreneurial projects with students from India and China focusing on culture, tea appreciation, business, health, and education. Evergreen students may also work with students from other parts of the world. The projects will be presented at a Symposium in May. 

To participate in this class students will need access to Internet. Our approach will emphasize participation in synchronous (live) sessions; however, if students find themselves unable to participate due to technology, caregiving obligations, economic disruption, health risk, or illness, they can work with faculty to pursue alternate options to earn related credit.  Credits will be awarded in Chinese History and Culture, Calligraphy and Visual Arts, and International Studies. 


Winter 2021 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

(12): 20169
(8): 20322
Spring 2021 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

(12): 30122
(8): 30155

Academic details

Preparatory For

Cultural studies, International studies, Silk Roads studies


Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$30 winter quarter for a supply kit.

Special Expenses

Students joining in spring will need to purchase a $30 supply kit. 


In Person or Remote
Remote (W)
Remote (S)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting



Date Revision
2020-12-09 This program is now open to all class levels.